Category Archives for "Garden News"

Garden Tourism Development at BC Tourism Conference

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

BC Tourism Industry Conference 2018

Garden Tourism Update and British Columbia’s Garden Tourism Sector Development at the BC Tourism Industry Conference 2018

Gardens British Columbia is pleased to collaborate with and be the topic of a seminar titled, B-2 Sector Development: Where the Rubber Hits the Trail and Going Gardens Tourism, at the BC Tourism Conference in Kelowna, BC, March 7-9, 2018. The Conference is a high level forum for tourism businesses, destination marketers, and stakeholders from around British Columbia to learn from experts and each other about the key issues, challenges and best practices in the industry.

Brian White, a a keen member of Gardens BC, representing Royal Roads University’s Hatley Park National Historic Site will present a paper on Gardens BC sectoral development and has kindly allowed us to publish a peek at the abstract:

The garden experience in a particular state or region is often presented as a marketable
tourist/visitor attraction, but the structure of the collective management and marketing of the garden tourism sector is not usually presented as a case study. In this paper, the development of Gardens British Columbia provides a sectoral case study. The membership heterogeneity of Gardens BC reflects the widely varying nature of the garden experience in the province, and provides an opportunity to examine the tourism industry sectorial approach used to provide effective marketing and promotion for export-ready gardens and garden communities. In particular, the garden manager’s leadership, collaborative approach, and the existing sectoral marketing methodology of Destination British Columbia (formerly Tourism British Columbia) provides a pathway for other jurisdictions wishing to enhance and market this highly interconnected sector.
Key Words: Garden tourism, tourism sector organization, garden management, garden tourism marketing.

Alison Partridge of Going Gardens, spent 20 years in the New Zealand tourism industry and then 10 in Canada as the Director of PR and Marketing at The Butchart Gardens. And in the last almost 10 years has developed deep insight into international garden tourism, traveling to the world’s gardens with Proof Positive Solutions/Going Gardens, that advises developing tourism product and business. She will give updates on hotspots for international garden tourism, what the developments and trends are and give a glimpse into what the future might hold for tourism in the garden sector not only internationally, but for the British Columbia garden tourism sector as well.

If you are attending the conference, join the panelists in this session to learn about the development of each of these sectors – where they are at, how they got there and where they are going. Understand the importance of having a vision, working collaboratively and having strong leadership to continually evolve a sector and achieve success.

For anyone who wishes to read Professor White’s BC Garden Tourism Sectoral paper, please email us after the conference and we would be glad to send you a copy.

If you liked this article, you may also be interested in: Gardens British Columbia Launches Innovative New Web Site.

Chinese New Year: Four Thousand Years and Counting

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Chinese New Year 2018

新年好 Xīnnián hǎo – Happy New Year!

People have been celebrating Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival (节), for over four millennia and its reach is growing.   First celebrated in China, people around the world now observe the holiday.  Almost everyone finds a good party irresistible.  Visit Vancouver’s Chinatown on Sunday, February 18 to mingle with the crowds, see a parade and visit the Temple Fair at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Traditionally, at Chinese New Year, people were happily distracted from their daily lives for almost a month.  Family preparations took more than a week, with activities prescribed for every day, including cleaning, shopping for food and flowers full of symbolism and new clothing for the whole family.  All debts had to be paid before the New Year.  One day was reserved for sending off the kitchen god to report to the Jade Emperor on the family’s conduct that year.  The god’s picture hung in the kitchen where, from this central location, he could watch what was going on.  To ensure a good report, a sticky cake, Nian Gao (年糕 trans.‘every year is better’), was smeared on the picture’s mouth before he was sent off.   A good report was essential to secure abundant blessings for the coming year; the theory being that it’s hard to report bad things with a mouth full of sweets.

Chinese New Year was, and continues to be, one of the two main Chinese holidays that draw everyone home.  New Year’s Eve was for family, with eating, drinking and games.  Every dish of the reunion meal had symbolism.  Traditionally, in Suzhou China, people ate meatballs to represent the family reunion, egg dumplings that looked like ingots of gold and green vegetables with long stalks to represent longevity.

Children received red envelopes full of sweets or money by the adults.  The object of the evening was to stay awake until midnight to usher out the old year and welcome in the new one.  Firecrackers and fireworks have been set off for thousands of years to keep evil influences away and for the sheer fun of making noise.

Red and gold have always been the lucky colours of Chinese New Year.  Red lanterns, lucky sayings on red paper, red flowers, red envelopes and red clothing for children were popular.  Gold represented prosperity.

The first days of the New Year were for paying visits, exchanging new year greetings and enjoying general festivities.  It all ended on the 15th day of the new year with a Lantern Festival.

Temple Fairs were held during Chinese New Year and brought festival crowds together to see dragon and lion dances and acrobats, eat special food and shop at holiday markets.  Held at temples because they had large assembly spaces, the fairs provided a place to enjoy an outing in a renao (热闹 trans.‘hot and noisy’) atmosphere.

The festival has changed somewhat during its history; unhappily, we no longer get several weeks off work.  The kitchen god is less in evidence and more families eat at restaurants now, but families do gather. Red and gold, special flowers and red envelopes are still much loved.  Lions still dance and lanterns are hung.

If you want to immerse yourself in this happiest of all Chinese holidays, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden will hold a Temple Fair in honour of the new Earth Dog Year.  You’ll see paper cutting demonstrations, a Chinese art book display, lion dancing and a Gongfu Cha tea demonstration.  Get a traditional couplet written just for you by the Richmond Calligraphy Club members, listen to the Chinese New Year story about the Nian (年) monster and traditional music performed by the Folk Music Group of the Senior Chinese Society of Vancouver, put a wish on the wishing tree and receive a red envelope from a community elder.

The Twenty-Four Seasons of a Year

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Saanich peninsula farmland through the seasons

The Twenty-Four Seasons of a Year

At this time of year people often ask: what is there to see or do in a garden in winter? British Columbia has the warmest winter climate in Canada and hundreds of public gardens open to visit. Some like to see the ‘bones’ of the garden in winter. Gardeners are of course planning what to plant soon. And of course, Victoria is getting ready for its 43rd annual Greater Victoria Flower Count. But with Chinese New Year coming us, we thought we would ask BC garden tourism expert and former director the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden about the Chinese view the seasons in the garden and we have good news: spring starts on February 4th in 2018!

Gardeners have a close relationship with the earth and weather. We watch weather and work with soil. If we get it right and with a bit of luck, we’re rewarded with an abundance of flowers, vegetables, fruit; whatever we’re trying to grow. As Chinese New Year approaches, seed catalog in hand, I plan and dream of the next cycle of soul-satisfying activity. I like the movement of seasons. Soil-workers have studied the seasonal changes for millennium. The traditional Chinese calendar divides the year into twenty-four sections; recognizing the nuances in the seasons. It gave an edge to those who grow things.Chinese New Year preparations

When I lived in Beijing in the early 1990’s, before there was much heat or air conditioning available to common folks, the winters were dry and bitterly cold and the summers hot and muggy. The practical Beijing population wore six layers of clothing against the cold and slept outside, often putting cots on the sidewalk, to catch any small breeze in summer. I wasn’t used to either extreme, though fared better in winter by application of successive layers. I know when and where the term ‘hot, sweaty mess’ was coined – it was me in July and August.

Chinese New Year mandarin oranges

I was sceptical when my Beijing friends confidently predicted when the worst of the heat would begin to cool each year. They named the date long ahead of time and it happened on schedule several years in a row. How could Chinese weather be so much more predictable than western weather? I then discovered, in an old book, the twenty-four sections of the traditional Chinese year used by farmers to guide them in sowing and harvesting. The system seemed to help predict weather too.

Each of the annual twenty-four sections is fifteen days long which, when multiplied, adds up to 360 days a year. To make up the shortfall, an extra month was inserted between two months every several years. The twenty-four sections of the agricultural year start with the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) section and are poetic in their descriptive names:

24 Season in the Chinese Calendar

While relying heavily on the twenty-four sections for when to plant, harvest and preserve, farming families also kept their own record of daily weather. A woman of the household would create a detailed painting of a tree with set number of trunk, large and mall branches. Leaves were added daily in a set order and in the colours representing if the day had been sunny, rainy or windy. The finished painting was carefully stored as a record of that growing season. Some families were able to refer to hundreds of years these paintings.

Not many of us keep detailed records anymore; we rely on the Weather Channel. But for all the scientific instruments and knowledge; I’m not completely sure we’re much farther ahead in predicting weather. Although I quibble about some of the dates in the twenty-four sections, I recognize and celebrate the pattern.

Chinese New Year preparations complete

Butchart Gardens Named 2017 ‘World Tulip Garden’

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

World Tulip Garden of the Year 2017

Victoria, B.C., . . . On Saturday, October 7, members of the World Tulip Summit Society (WTSS) gathered in Ottawa, to announce the recipients of the 2017 World Tulip Awards, including the coveted title of World Tulip Garden.

Gardens British Columbia is happy to announce the title of World Tulip Garden of the Year  (2017) has been awarded to one of our members, The Butchart Gardens, in recognition of their beautiful tulip display, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“We are honored to receive this award,” commented Dave Cowen, Butchart Gardens CEO. “To be recognized in such illustrious company is truly a privilege.”

The Butchart Gardens - Top Walk Tulips

World Tulip Awards are presented to organizations and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of tulips as part of their destination’s tourism appeal.  “Tulips are part of the culture of many countries.   Existing national tulip traditions and successful tulip initiatives can be adopted by attractions, events and festivals around the world thus providing new opportunities to share our cultures and strengthen friendships”, says Michel Gauthier, Chair of the World Tulip Summit Society.

In the spirit of highlighting the world’s most dynamic tulip experiences and their contribution to world friendship, WTSS is honored to announce the 2017 recipients of the World Tulip Awards.

World Tulip Garden of the Year 2017


World Tulip Festival of the Year: Tulip Time, Holland, USA
World’s TOP 5 Tulip Festivals Worth Travelling For:

  1. Floriade, Canberra, Australia
  2. Istanbul Tulip Festival, Turkey
  3. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, USA
  4. Srinagar Tulip Festival, Kashmir, India
  5. Taean Tulip Festival, South Korea

World Tulip Event of the Year: Bloememcorso Bollenstreek, Netherlands
World Tulip Display of the Year: Tonami Tulip Fair, Japan
World Tulip Garden of the Year: The Butchart Gardens, Canada
World Tulip Destination of the Year: Mainau Island, Germany
World Tulip Attraction of the Year: Jiangsu Dafeng Holland Flower Park, China
World Tulip Promotion of the Year: Canada 150 Tulip, Canada
World Tulip Game of the Year: Tulip Crush, Canada
World Tulip Product of the Year: Tulpi Chair, Netherlands
World Tulip Partner of the Year: Veseys, Canada
World Tulip Person of the Year: Mayor Osamu Natsuno, Tonami, Japan

Join us in congratulating The Butchart Gardens on their World Tulip Garden of the Year win. Gardens British Columbia would also like to congratulate all the awardees from around the world who were recognised at the 2017 World Tulip Summit.  This is particularly exciting coming on the heels of the ‘Canada 150 Garden Experience’ designations awarded to all 10 members of Gardens British Columbia this past winter at the Garden Tourism Conference, by the Canadian Garden Council.


The World Tulip Summit Society brings together the tulipists, tulip aficionados, connoisseurs, fans, devotees and tulip lovers of the world to celebrate and promote the positive influence this beautiful and unique flower, one of the world’s most beloved flowers, has had and continues to have worldwide, on all aspects of life as a symbol of international friendship, peace and spring.


  1. promote the tulip as a symbol of friendship, peace and of spring
  2. make use of the tulip as a means to promote international goodwill
  3. encourage and facilitate the celebration of the tulip
  4. promote the organization of tulip celebrations for the benefit of local residents and tourists
  5. pursue and facilitate the exchange of information and cooperation between  countries with regard to tulips

2017 World Tulip Garden of the Year







Brian Minter: Garden Days should be celebrated all year in Canada

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

UBC Botanical Gardens

As we look forward to celebrating 150 years as a country on July 1, there are numerous activities in which Canadians will be engaged and enjoying the many aspects of our gardens should be one of them! Gardens have always been part of our culture from sustainable food growing to creating beauty both in private and public gardens and parks. Tourism Canada has long recognized that gardens have been a significant visitor attraction from coast to coast.

In recent years the Canadian Garden Council has organized Garden Days nationally to recognize the importance of gardens in our Canadian lifestyle.  Initially, it was a means to recognize the value and benefits of home gardens and community parks to the health and well-being of our citizens. Since then it has also evolved to celebrate environmental stewardship, such as the creation of animal and beneficial insect habitats. With so many natural areas lost to development, gardens are playing an increasingly important role in providing nectar and pollen so pollinators can thrive.

A couple of years ago as the Garden Days spokesperson for B.C., I worked with CBC to ask British Columbians to write in and tell us what their gardens mean to them. As we read the responses and looked at the images sent in, we were blown away by the depth of feeling and the range of relationships folks had with their personal gardens — everything from a child’s first experience planting seeds, seeing them sprout, nurturing them, being enthralled watching bees and butterflies participate in the garden process to older folks who wrote of planting areas of their gardens in memory of lost friends and family members. Young Millennials wrote in to say how excited they were about growing and enjoying their fresh homegrown veggies.

This project was a real eye-opener! These letters confirmed that gardens are very much an essential part of many people’s lives.

Garden Days has been celebrated this past week with over 175 significant garden events across our country. In B.C., Revelstoke’s main event was ‘Art in the Garden’; in Kelowna it was a ‘Flower Power Garden Tour’; in Chilliwack ‘Lady Bug Love’; in Pitt Meadows a ‘Pot a Sunflower’ workshop for kids. Butchart Gardens is offering a gnome hunt, and Milner Gardens and Woodland is offering a 2-for-1 admission.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow the UBC Botanical Gardens are also featuring activities to celebrate Garden Days. The B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association has encouraged its member garden stores to create pollinator displays to showcase which plants are most effective in providing pollen and nectar. The Garden Days website and the webpage of the B.C. Council of Garden Clubs are two good resources for garden event information.

Gardening is recognized as adding value in numerous ways to our lives. The health benefits alone of working with soil and plants have been scientifically verified. Not only is the activity of gardening great as a physical workout, it can also provide a sense of well-being and happiness, while the creativity of planning and growing a colourful garden engages our artistic skills. Teaching children to plant and eat organically grown food helps them connect with the importance of ‘dirt’ and the natural world.

The Canadian Garden Council designated June 9-18 this year as Garden Days, but in reality this can be a year round event for all Canadians, whether it’s growing beautiful containers of herbs and vegetables on your deck, creating artful planters to add beauty to your patio or planting a pollinator garden to benefit a wide range of bees and other beneficial insects.

Visiting our beautiful parks and gardens will help inspire us, and we are fortunate that we have so many great ones in B.C.  The number of garden tours taking place in our communities now and over the next few weeks will give us a glimpse of what can be accomplished in both large and small space private gardens.

So take a moment to find out what is happening near you and get yourself connected to your local garden community.

Brian Minter writes on gardening every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun. This article originally appeared in Brian’s column on June 15, 2017 and has been reprinted with permission.

Dragon Returns to the Japanese Garden at The Butchart Gardens

By UBC Botanical Garden | Garden News

Dragon in the Japanese Garden at Butchart

There Are Now Two Dragons at The Butchart Gardens

The dragon that once graced the top of the watercourse in the Japanese Garden has returned–in a manner of speaking. Admittedly, it’s not the original, but we will go out on a limb and state with great confidence it is superior in many ways. Although The Butchart Gardens don’t have any historical records regarding the original dragon, we had local artist Nathan Scott recreate this exquisite piece by taking fragments from the original piece, rebuilding what he had to the best of his ability, and then reimagining and recreating the intricate details. What Nathan has achieved is remarkable as the new sculpture is simply stunning and should turn the heads of every visitor descending the stairs into the Japanese Garden.

You may be wondering about the differences in dragons and what makes them unique as they now have a dragon of Chinese origin (located at the top of the Concert Lawn) and this newly minted Japanese version.  If you look closely, the first thing you may have noticed is that the Chinese dragon has 5 toes and the Japanese dragon has only three. The Chinese claim that dragons originated in their country and as the dragon flew further away from their home they began losing toes. The Japanese claim ownership of origin as well, but their story is the dragons gained toes as they flew further away.

Be sure to take a look at these two dragons on your next visit.

You might also be interested in The Butchart Gardens – Dining room restaurant receives ‘Top 100’ recognition.